Thursday, February 22, 2024

Makwala qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

At 34 years of age, Isaac Makwala is in the twilight of his career, but the sprinter is not slowing down, not yet.

If anything, the Badman of athletics is actually seeking to blaze below 44 seconds as he sets sight in his last Olympic hurrah in Tokyo.

The last time Makwala dipped below 44 seconds in 400m was at the Stade Louis II in Monaco almost four years ago on 21 July 2017.

After battling injuries, from which he still is recovering, the athlete looks to be going to his vintage best.

Yesterday at the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) national championships, Makwala effortlessly clocked 44.65 seconds to book his plane ticket to Tokyo.

“Running means a lot to me and now I want to clock 43 and go back to my original time before my injury. Ever since returning from injury, this is the best performance I have had,” he said.

While Makwala’s qualification would have been unexpected considering he had not clocked below 45 seconds since 2019, the athlete himself was not surprised, and rightly so.

His peak times have always been between the months of May and August, something which is an ominous warning for his competitors at the summer Olympics.

“I knew I was going to make it to the Olympics. This is my favorite time of the year as I usually peak around this season. May and June are my months, when I take a step down memory lane you will recall that in 2014 around this time I started excelling and clocked in at 44,” he explained. 

Now with the 400m Olympic berth booked, Makwala says the focus is now on qualifying in the 200m sprint.

“I honestly did not expect to run fast in 400m but I was expecting to do great in 200m but my body decided otherwise. This year I wanted to focus on 200m I was only doing 400m to push my boys in the 400m relay and show them support,” he said.

As he looks to roll back the hands of time, Makwala says no one should shrug him off just because of his age.

For this veteran runner, age is just a number and it does not limit or restrict anyone from doing what is in their heart.

“I do not believe in ageism. Sometimes I forget my age and focus on how my body is carrying me and reacting because age is just a number,” he says.

As he sets eyes on defying age, Makwala knows he has to take special care of himself if he is to keep performing at the top level.

His secret to being great, he says, is simple. It is focussing on the goal set before him, taking care of his body as it is his office and following instructions from his coach.

In short, the Badman himself stays away from bad things that may impact his performance. 


Read this week's paper